Foley has worked for many wrestling promotions, including the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and Global Wrestling Federation (GWF), as well as numerous promotions in Japan. Foley is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of WWE, where he participated in the main event of WrestleManias XV and 2000 – as a special referee in the former.
Foley has wrestled under his real name and various personas, including Dude Love, Cactus Jack and Mankind, also known as the "Three Faces of Foley". He is a four-time world champion (three WWF Championships and one TNA World Heavyweight Championship), an eleven-time world tag team champion (eight WWF Tag Team Championships, two ECW World Tag Team Championships and one WCW World Tag Team Championship), a one-time TNA Legends Champion and the inaugural WWF Hardcore Champion.
Foley was born in Bloomington, Indiana. He had an older brother named John. Shortly after his birth, Foley's family moved to East Setauket, New York, where Foley attended Ward Melville High School, played lacrosse, and wrestled. Foley is of Irish descent. Foley was a high school classmate of comic actor Kevin James. The two were on the wrestling team together and attended the same college. While a student at State University of New York at Cortland, he hitchhiked to Madison Square Garden to see his favorite wrestler, Jimmy Snuka, in a steel cage match against Don Muraco. Foley has said that Snuka's flying body splash from the top of the cage inspired him to pursue a career in pro wrestling. Foley had a front row seat and is visible on the video of the event.
Mick Foley formally trained at Dominic DeNucci's wrestling school in Freedom, Pennsylvania, driving several hours weekly from his college campus in Cortland, New York, and debuted in 1983. In addition to appearing on DeNucci's cards, Foley and several other students also took part in some squash matches as jobbers for WWF TV tapings of Prime Time Wrestling and Superstars of Wrestling, where Foley wrestled under the names, Jack Foley and Nick Foley. In one of these matches (the very first episode of Superstars), Foley and Les Thornton (another jobber) faced the British Bulldogs, during which the Dynamite Kid (who had a long earned reputation as a stiff worker in the ring) clotheslined Foley with such force that he was unable to eat solid food for several weeks. During these squash matches, Foley also faced other top level talent at the time, such as Hercules Hernandez. His run would not last long, as he had not signed a contract with the promotion at the time. During this run, he was also billed from different hometowns and at different weights.
After several years of wrestling in the independent circuit, Foley began receiving offers from various regional promotions, including Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF). He joined the Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) as Cactus Jack, where he teamed with Gary Young as part of the Stud Stable. Cactus and Young briefly held the CWA tag titles in late 1988. On November 20, Foley left CWA for Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling.
In World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), Cactus Jack, billed as Cactus Jack Manson, was a major part of Skandor Akbar's stable. (The addition of "Manson" to Foley's name came as the result of a woman who began to stalk him at WCCW shows who went by the name Mary Ann Manson; Foley later said that the connection of that stalker's name to his, as well as its connection to Charles Manson, made him uncomfortable.) Foley also won several titles, including the company's light heavyweight and tag team titles before leaving the company, losing his last match to Eric Embry in nine seconds. He then briefly competed in Alabama's Continental Wrestling Federation before completing a brief stint with World Championship Wrestling. For much of his time there, he would team with jobbers. When the jobber would lose the match for the team, Cactus Jack would attack his partner, throw them out of the ring, and deliver his infamous ring apron flying elbow drop onto the concrete floor. His biggest match at the time was against Mil Máscaras at Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout. It was during this period that Foley was involved in a car accident that resulted in the loss of his two front teeth, adding to the distinctive look for which he is famous. Following the short stint with WCW, Foley then signed with Herb Abrams's Universal Wrestling Federation. In UWF, Foley teamed with Bob Orton to feud with Don Muraco, Sunny Beach, and Brian Blair.
He soon left UWF for Tri-State Wrestling (a forerunner to Extreme Championship Wrestling), whose high-impact and violent wrestling style fit Foley well. On one night, known as Tri-State's Summer Sizzler 1991, Cactus Jack and Eddie Gilbert had three matches in one night: Cactus won a Falls Count Anywhere match, lost a Stretcher match, and then fought to a double disqualification in a Steel Cage match. These matches caught the attention of World Championship Wrestling promoters, in large part due to widespread photo circulation. In 1991, after a brief stint working in the Global Wrestling Federation, Foley joined WCW full time.
On September 5, 1991, Cactus Jack debuted as a heel and attacked Sting. After feuds with Van Hammer and Abdullah the Butcher, Cactus Jack faced Sting, then WCW World Heavyweight Champion, in a non-title Falls Count Anywhere match at Beach Blast in 1992, which Sting won. For a long time, Foley considered this the best match he ever worked. Unlike Jack's first stint in WCW, where his personality was quieter, he was now outwardly maniacal; laughing hysterically, shrieking into the air while choking his opponents and yelling his signature catch phrase "Bang-Bang!".
After spending a year and a half with WCW as a heel, Cactus Jack transitioned into a fan favorite after engaging in a feud with Paul Orndorff, Harley Race and Big Van Vader. Jack and Orndorff wrestled each other in a match for a spot on WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader's team at a Clash of the Champions event. After the match, Race and Orndorff beat up Jack. At the following Clash of Champions event, Cactus Jack helped Sting's team win the match. He engaged in a feud with Orndorff, winning a falls-count-anywhere match against Orndorff at Superbrawl III. He then moved on to face Big Van Vader.
Cactus Jack wrestled Big Van Vader on April 6, 1993, winning by count-out, but being severely beaten in the process. As a result, in the rematch with Vader on April 24, the two executed a dangerous spot to sell a storyline injury. Vader removed the protective mats at ringside and powerbombed Cactus onto the exposed concrete floor, causing a legitimate concussion and causing Foley to temporarily lose sensation in his left foot. While Foley was away, WCW ran an angle where Cactus Jack's absence was explained with a farcical comedy storyline in which he went crazy, was institutionalized, escaped, and developed amnesia. Foley had wanted the injury storyline to be very serious and generate genuine sympathy for him before his return. The comedy vignettes that WCW produced instead were so bad that Foley jokes in Have a Nice Day that they were the brainchild of WCW executives who regarded a surefire moneymaking feud as a problem that needed to be solved.
In one of WCW's most brutal matches of all time, Cactus faced Vader in a Texas Death match at Halloween Havoc. Race won the match for Vader by using a cattle prod on Cactus, knocking him out. The level of violence involved in this feud caused WCW to refuse to book Cactus Jack against Vader on a pay-per-view again. On March 16, 1994, during a WCW European tour, Foley and Big Van Vader had one of the most infamous matches in wrestling history in Munich, Germany. Foley began a hangman—a planned move where a wrestler's head is tangled between the top two ring ropes. Foley freed himself from the ropes and fell out of the ring. When Foley re-entered the ring the two wrestlers began trading blows. During this time, Vader reached up and grabbed Foley's ear, and ripped it off. The two men continued wrestling as the referee picked up the ear and gave it to the ring announcer. Vader claimed for years after that the ear had come off during the botched Hangman maneuver, however in a WWE Network video, Vader admits that after seeing footage that he had indeed removed Foley's ear. Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan were scheduled to win the tag team titles at Slamboree in 1994. Foley had to choose between reattaching his ear or wrestling in the pay-per-view and winning the titles. Foley chose to wrestle and won his only championship in WCW. Later on, Foley was frustrated by WCW's reluctance to work a storyline around losing his ear.
WCW also shared a brief co-promotion with ECW during this time in which Foley represented WCW on ECW television as the WCW Tag Team champion, facing Sabu at Hostile City Showdown on June 24, 1994. During a promo, Foley spat on his Tag Team title belt and threw it to the ground to appeal to the hardcore fans who frowned upon the mainstream promotions.
Cactus Jack's first appearance for the NWA-affiliated Eastern Championship Wrestling came on the May 31, 1994 episode, with Cactus revealed as Sabu's opponent on June 24 at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia. After leaving WCW, Foley went to the newly formed Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and began a feud with Sabu. Jack then began working the ECW tag team division on teams with Terry Funk, Mikey Whipwreck, and Kevin Sullivan. He had two ECW World Tag Team Championship reigns with Whipwreck while in ECW.
Foley then returned to ECW to team with Tommy Dreamer. According to Heyman, Hardcore style differentiated Foley from other traditional wrestlers, so in ECW, Foley wasn't unique. Cactus began a gimmick where he criticized hardcore wrestling and sought to renounce his status as a hardcore wrestling icon and used a very technical, slow wrestling to make people upset. He said that he was on a mission to save his partner from making the mistake of trying to please bloodthirsty fans. The mismatched partnership lasted until August 5, 1995, when Cactus turned on Dreamer when they were teaming with The Pitbulls against Raven, Stevie Richards and The Dudley Brothers (Dudley Dudley and Big Dick Dudley). Cactus Jack DDT'ed his partner and joined Raven's Nest, as he wished to serve Raven's "higher purpose". He remained one of Raven's top henchmen for the remainder of his time in ECW. On August 28, Cactus beat the previously undefeated 911. As part of Foley's heel gimmick, he began praising WWF and WCW on ECW television, which angered ECW fans. Their anger intensified once word began to spread that Foley was leaving to join the WWF (In Have a Nice Day, Foley recounted an incident where he asked an ECW roadie to sell T-shirts for him at an event held in a Queens, New York venue where he had been popular even as a heel; the man came back after being spat upon numerous times by angry fans, who made him fear for his life). Even when he tried to give sincere good-byes to the fans, Cactus Jack was met with chants of "You sold out" by the ECW fanbase everywhere he went. Cactus was booked to face WWF hater Shane Douglas, who won when he put Jack into a figure four leglock that allowed Mikey Whipwreck to hit him repeatedly with a steel chair. Foley's last ECW match was against Whipwreck on March 9, 1996, and he recounts that he was not looking forward to it due to the increasingly hostile reactions he got even when he wasn't in character. The ECW fans, who knew that this was Foley's last match, finally returned his affection. They cheered him throughout the match and chanted, "Please don't go!". After the match, Foley told the audience that their reaction made everything worthwhile and made his exit by dancing with Stevie Richards and The Blue Meanie to Frank Sinatra's song "New York, New York". Foley has said that this exit was his favorite moment in wrestling.
At the tail end of 1994, Foley joined Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) as Cactus Jack, causing Boo Bradley to lose the SMW Beat the Champ Television Championship. He often teamed with Brian Lee to feud with Bradley and Chris Candido. Cactus Jack then began a crusade to rid Bradley of his valet Tamara Fytch. He ignited a feud between Candido and Bradley when he accused Candido of having sexual relations with Fytch. (Ironically, Candido and Fytch were a couple in real life). Cactus Jack left SMW before the feud was resolved.
In 1995, Foley went to Japan and wrestled in International Wrestling Association of Japan (IWA Japan), where he engaged in feuds with Terry Funk and Shoji Nakamaki. During his brief stint in Japan Foley had the nickname "Tsunami Stopper." Foley, however, soon returned to ECW to feud with The Sandman. Funk returned to team up with Sandman, and during a particularly violent spot, the pair hit Cactus with a Singapore cane forty-six times. Cactus Jack then defeated Funk at Hostile City Showdown 1995. Later, he fought Sandman for the ECW championship. During the match, Cactus Jack knocked Sandman unconscious and was declared the winner. Referee Bill Alfonso, however, reversed his decision on the grounds that the title cannot change hands by knockout.
Returning to the IWA, Cactus Jack began a feud with Leatherface, whom he had betrayed during a tag team match. Foley also continued to wrestle in independent circuits, winning championships on the Ozark Mountain and Steel City circuits. On August 20, 1995, IWA organized a "King of the Death Match" tournament. Each level of the tournament featured a new and deadly gimmick: Cactus Jack's first round was a barbed-wire baseball bat, thumbtack death match, in which he defeated Terry Gordy; the second round was a barbed-wire board, bed of nails match where Cactus Jack defeated Shoji Nakamaki. The final, against Terry Funk, was a barbed-wire rope, barbed-wire and C4 board, time-bomb death match, which Cactus Jack won with help from Tiger Jeet Singh. After the match, both men were ravaged by the wire, and burned by the C4 explosions. Foley later said that he only received $300 for the entire night but in 2010 he wrote that, "looking back that match in Honjo is probably the performance I'm proudest of." After the tournament, he teamed with Tracy Smothers for a quick run with the IWA tag team titles.
In 1996, Foley signed a contract with WWF and, this time, the WWF did not use Foley as "enhancement talent". He was shown several designs for a new character—a man with a leather mask and chains. However, WWF said that it was too dark and only left the mask. Foley arrived in the WWF in 1996 with a new gimmick and perhaps his most famous personality: Mankind, a mentally deranged schizophrenic who constantly squealed (even throughout his matches), shrieked "Mommy!", spoke to a rat named George, enjoyed pain, physically abused himself (such as by pulling out his hair), wore a mask and lived in boiler rooms; hence, his specialty match, the Boiler Room Brawl. His catch phrase was "Have a nice day". The original name that Vince McMahon had for Foley was "Mason the Mutilator", but Foley thought that Mankind would be a better name and McMahon changed it. On the April 1, 1996 edition of Raw is War, the day after WrestleMania XII, Mankind debuted and defeated Bob Holly, quickly moving into a feud with The Undertaker. The two then began interfering in the other's matches until they were booked in the first ever Boiler Room brawl, in which the goal was to escape the arena's boiler room and reach the ring to take the urn from Paul Bearer. The Undertaker appeared to have won, but Paul Bearer refused to hand him the urn, allowing Mankind to win, thus (for the time being) ending the relationship between Paul and The Undertaker. While Mankind was managed by Paul Bearer, he referred to him as "Uncle Paul". Mankind then earned the number one contendership to face the then WWF Champion Shawn Michaels at In Your House: Mind Games. Michaels won by disqualification via interference by Vader and The Undertaker. For several years, Foley considered this match his best ever, saying: "Sure, at 280 pounds I still looked like hell, but after a brutal cardiovascular training regimen, I was able to go full-tilt for twenty-seven minutes with a smaller, quicker, better athlete than me". Foley would later state he preferred his match with Randy Orton at Backlash 2004.
The Mankind-Undertaker feud continued with the first ever Buried Alive match at In Your House: Buried Alive. Undertaker won the match, but Paul Bearer, the Executioner, Mankind and other heels attacked The Undertaker and buried him alive. Afterward, The Undertaker challenged Mankind to a match at Survivor Series, which the Undertaker won. The feud continued after another match at In Your House: Revenge of the Taker for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, which Undertaker had won at WrestleMania 13. Undertaker won the match and Bearer took a leave of absence, continuing the feud. Jim Ross then began conducting a series of interviews with Mankind. During the interviews, Ross brought up the topic of Foley's home videos and the hippie-inspired character he played in them, Dude Love, as well as his tormented journey in wrestling. The interviews also had an effect on the fans, who began cheering Mankind, turning him into a face. Mankind then competed in the 1997 King of the Ring tournament, losing in the finals to Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
Around this time, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels won the WWF Tag Team Championships from Owen Hart and The British Bulldog, but Michaels was injured and could no longer compete. Mankind tried to replace him, but Austin said he wanted "nothing to do with a freak" and resigned himself to facing Hart and the Bulldog alone the next week. Halfway into the match, however, Foley debuted a new persona known as Dude Love who suddenly appeared and helped Austin take the victory, becoming the new Tag Team Champions. The following week in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dude teamed with Austin, and Mankind's longtime nemesis, The Undertaker, to face Bret Hart, Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith, members of villainous anti-American stable, the Hart Foundation, in a United States vs. Canada Flag Match—the first match of its kind broadcast on Raw. The Hart Foundation ultimately won the match due to assistance from another Foundation member, Brian Pillman. Austin and Dude vacated their tag team titles when Austin suffered a (legitimate) serious neck injury at the hands of Owen Hart at SummerSlam. Dude Love feuded with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, as the two competed in a Falls Count Anywhere match. One of Foley's most memorable vignettes aired before the match began, in which Dude Love and Mankind discussed who should wrestle the upcoming match. Eventually, "they" decided that it should be Cactus Jack, and Foley's old character made his WWF debut. The crowd's response to Cactus Jack was positive with many fans chanting "E-C-W" throughout the match. Cactus Jack won the match with a piledriver through a table. Shortly thereafter, ECW's Terry Funk joined the WWF as Chainsaw Charlie. At the 1998 Royal Rumble, he participated under three personas, Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love. Charlie and Jack defeated the New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania XIV in a Dumpster match to win the tag team titles. The next night, however, Vince McMahon stripped them of the belts and scheduled a rematch in a steel cage, which the Outlaws won with help from their new allies, D-Generation X. On April 6, 1998, Foley turned heel when Cactus Jack explained the fans would not see him anymore because they did not appreciate him and only cared about Stone Cold Steve Austin. Vince McMahon explained to Austin the next week that he would face a "mystery" opponent at Unforgiven. That opponent turned out to be Dude Love, who won the match by disqualification, meaning that Austin retained the title. McMahon, displeased with the outcome, required Foley to prove he deserved another shot at Austin's title with a number one contendership match against his former partner, Terry Funk. The match was both the WWF's first ever "Hardcore match" and the first time that Foley wrestled under his own name. Foley won, and after the match, a proud McMahon came out to Dude Love's music and presented Foley with the Dude Love costume. At Over the Edge, Dude Love took on Austin for the title. McMahon designated his subordinates Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson as the timekeeper and ring announcer, and made himself the special referee. The Undertaker, however, came to ringside to ensure McMahon called the match fairly, and with his presence, Dude Love lost the match and was "fired" by McMahon on the June 1st edition of Raw.
1998 Hell in a Cell match
On that same episode of Raw Is War, Foley then reverted to his Mankind character, who began wearing an untucked shirt with a loose necktie and ended his feud with The Undertaker. At King of the Ring, the two competed in the second-ever Hell in a Cell match in June 1998 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Before this match, Foley and Terry Funk were discussing the previous year's Hell in a Cell (which took place at Badd Blood in October) that featured the Undertaker backdropping and slamming Shawn Michaels onto the chain-link ceiling of the cage. Foley and Funk were brainstorming ideas about how to top that match when Funk said, laughing, "Maybe you should let him throw you off the top of the cage", Foley replied: "Yeah," I shot back, "then I could climb back up – and he could throw me off again." Man, that was a good one, and we were having a good time thinking completely ludicrous things to do inside, outside, and on top of the cage. After a while I got serious and said quietly to Terry, "I think I can do it."
In one of the most famous matches in professional wrestling history, Foley received numerous injuries and took two dangerous and highly influential bumps. The first one came as both wrestlers were brawling on top of the cell, and The Undertaker threw Mankind from the top of the cage from a height of 16 feet (4.9 m); (22 ft including angle of the fall) and sent him crashing through the Spanish announcers' table, prompting announcer Jim Ross to famously shout, "Good God Almighty! Good God Almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!". Foley remained motionless underneath debris, while The Undertaker remained on top of the cell staring down. Terry Funk was the first person on the scene, followed by WWE's resident doctor, François Petit, and various others, including a concerned-looking Vince McMahon. Foley was placed on a stretcher and began to be wheeled out to the arena. While The Undertaker was still atop the cage, the cage actually had to be raised in order to make room for the stretcher to reach Foley as he was lying on the opposite side of the ring to the entrance aisle. Moments later, there was commotion on the entrance ramp as Foley got up from the stretcher and proceeded to make his way back to the cage, climbing to the top of the cell, with The Undertaker doing likewise (this time they both climbed the cage surprisingly quickly despite Foley having suffered a dislocated shoulder due to the fall, and The Undertaker wrestling with a broken foot that night). With both men back on the top of the cell the match resumed.
Earlier as both were walking on the chain-link mesh which comprised the cell's ceiling, the metal fasteners were popping off causing the roof to sag and partially give way under their combined weight. According to Terry Funk, the prop guy had purposely designed it that way, but what happened next was unintentional and nearly resulted in a tragedy. In the second huge bump of the night, The Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind atop the chain-link mesh cage. As he landed, the roof panel he hit gave way underneath him and Foley fell into the ring hard. In response, announcer Jim Ross shouted, "Good God, Good God! Will somebody stop the damn match? Enough's enough!" Color commentator Jerry Lawler then famously retorted, "That's it. He's dead."
The cage giving way completely was a surprise to both Foley and The Undertaker. The Undertaker later said that he thought Foley was dead following the second fall. Foley was genuinely knocked unconscious for a few moments from the impact, but was able to come around. Terry Funk wrote in his autobiography, "Watching from the back, I thought he was dead. I ran out here and looked down at him, still lying in the ring where he'd landed. His eyes weren't rolled back in his head, but they looked totally glazed over, like a dead fish's eyes." Foley later said that the only reason he survived the fall was because he did not take the chokeslam properly. In his memoir Have a Nice Day, Foley called it both the best and worst chokeslam he ever took, saying that despite its looks, he would have likely died if he had landed properly. He also cited the fact that the ring he landed in had a harder surface than the modern rings do, which stopped his momentum once he landed. Foley would later explain that the roof of the cell was supposed to sag sufficiently so that Undertaker could kick him through, allowing him to dangle by his feet and eventually fall in a rotation to land on his front.
Some time after getting up and being attended to again by the aforementioned personnel, TV cameras showed a lingering shot of Foley smiling through his profusely bleeding mouth and lips, with a loose tooth hanging beneath his nose; the tooth having been knocked out due to being struck by the chair which had fallen through the cage and landed on his face, dislocating his jaw. Foley was actually trying to show a hole in his bottom lip by sticking his tongue through it, but it could not be seen clearly through his beard. The match continued for a while longer, ending with Foley receiving the Tombstone Piledriver after being slammed by The Undertaker onto hundreds of thumbtacks, which Foley himself had strewn onto the ring canvas. Although Foley lost, both wrestlers received a standing ovation for the match, and the event is often said to have jump-started Foley's main event career (Foley has said that although this match grew in legend, the reality was that his career remained "somewhat sluggish" for sometime afterwards until Foley further developed the Mankind character, and fans began to catch on). Many future matches attempted to replicate some of the spots from this match. In his autobiography Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley wrote that he could not remember much of what happened, and he had to watch a tape of the match to write about it. The match was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Match of the Year for 1998. Although many fans regard the match as a classic, it has generated controversy as well. Critics charge that the falls in the match were so extreme and they set the bar for further bumps so high that the inevitable attempts to equal or surpass them would be very dangerous for any wrestlers involved.
Foley said in his first book that his wife cried during a post-match phone conversation between the two, and this made Foley strongly consider retiring from wrestling. He also said that after the match, Vince McMahon thanked him for all he had done for the company, but made Foley promise to "never do anything like that again." He also made mention in the book of a rather humorous exchange he and Undertaker had while being checked out more thoroughly by Petit in the backstage area. Foley, still somewhat dazed from the concussion he sustained, turned to The Undertaker and asked, "Did I use the thumbtacks?", which was a staple of a number of Foley's early matches. The Undertaker looked at him and rather sternly replied, "Look at your arm, Mick!", at which point Foley discovered a significant number of thumbtacks still lodged in his arm. On the 2011 DVD release OMG! - The Top 50 Incidents in WWE History, the match was ranked at number one.
Although conventional wisdom holds that the Hell in a Cell match was responsible for Foley's rise to main event status, live television crowds did not initially get behind Mankind because of the match. Following a summer where he teamed with Kane to win the WWF Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions, Foley decided that crowds might respond better if Mankind were more of a comedy character, and so he abandoned the tortured soul characteristics and became more of a goofy, broken down oaf. He began the transition into this character following SummerSlam in 1998, after Kane turned on him and the two lost the tag team championships.
The following month, Foley began an angle with Vince McMahon, with Mankind trying to be a friend to the hated Mr. McMahon. On the October 5 episode of Raw, while McMahon was in a hospital nursing wounds suffered at the hands of The Undertaker and Kane, Mankind arrived to cheer him up. Having succeeded only in irritating McMahon, Mankind then took a sock off his foot to create a sock puppet named "Mr. Socko". Intended to be a one-time joke, Socko became an overnight sensation. Mankind began putting the sock on his hand before applying his finisher, the mandible claw, stuffing a smelly sock in the mouths of opposing wrestlers. The sweatsock became massively popular with the fans, mainly because it was marketed (mostly by Jerry "The King" Lawler during the events) as being a dirty, smelly, sweaty, repulsive, and vile sock. McMahon manipulated Mankind, who saw the WWF owner as a father figure, into doing his bidding. McMahon created the Hardcore Championship and awarded it to Mankind, making him the first-ever champion of the hardcore division. Mankind was then pushed as the favorite to win the WWF Championship at Survivor Series, as McMahon appeared to be manipulating the tournament so that Mankind would win. He and The Rock both reached the finals, where McMahon turned on Mankind. As The Rock placed Mankind in the Sharpshooter, McMahon ordered the timekeeper to ring the bell even though Mankind did not submit, a reference to the Montreal Screwjob from the year before. As a result of Survivor Series, Mankind officially transitioned into a fan favorite, while The Rock became a villain and the crown jewel in McMahon's new Corporation faction.
After weeks of trying to get his hands on McMahon's new faction, the Corporation, Mankind received a title shot against The Rock at Rock Bottom: In Your House. Mankind won the match by shoving a stench-ridden sock down The Rock's gullet, but McMahon ruled that the title would not change hands because Mankind did not win by pinfall or submission. After several weeks of going after the Corporation, Mankind had his big night on December 29, where Mankind defeated The Rock and won his first WWF Championship. The taped show was broadcast on January 4, 1999, so that is the date WWE recognizes as beginning the title run. Having title changes on broadcast television rather than pay-per-view was uncommon in professional wrestling, but because of the Monday Night Wars, TV ratings became more important. The rival WCW, attempting to take advantage of the fact that their show Monday Nitro aired live while Mankind's title victory was taped the week before, had announcer Tony Schiavone reveal the ending of the Mankind-Rock match before it aired. He then added sarcastically, "That'll put a lot of butts in the seats." The move backfired for WCW, as Nielsen ratings showed that Raw won the ratings battle that night, despite the Hogan vs. Nash main event which led to the reformation of the New World Order. Foley said that the ratings indicate that large numbers of viewers switched from Nitro to Raw to see him win the title and took great personal pride from this, and "Mick Foley put my butt in this seat" signs began showing up at WWF events.
Mankind first lost the WWF Championship to The Rock in an "I Quit" match at Royal Rumble, in what is regarded as one of the company's most violent matches. During the match, Foley took several bumps, including eleven unprotected chair shots to the head. This match is featured on Barry Blaustein's documentary Beyond the Mat, which shows the impact the match had on Foley and his family at ringside. The match ended after Mankind lost consciousness and The Rock's allies played a recording of Mankind saying "I Quit" from an earlier interview. The match was also voted 1999's Match of the Year by the readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Mankind won the title back at a rematch on Halftime Heat, which aired during halftime at Super Bowl XXXIII, in the WWF's first ever Empty Arena match on January 31. The two then competed in a Last Man Standing match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which ended without a winner, meaning that Mankind retained the title. Mankind was said to have thrown out his left shoulder early in the match, but showed no signs of it and refused to stop the match. It had to be popped back into place afterward. The next night, Mr. McMahon booked a ladder match for the championship, which The Rock won with help from The Big Show. Later in the year, Foley and The Rock patched up their friendship and teamed up to form a comedy team called the Rock 'n' Sock Connection, becoming one of the most popular teams during that time. The pair won the tag team titles on three occasions. Foley helped WWF Raw achieve its highest ratings ever with a segment featuring himself (as Mankind) and The Rock. The "This is Your Life" segment aired on September 27, 1999 and received an 8.4 rating.
Foley returned from knee surgery as Mankind to win the WWF Championship for the third time at SummerSlam in a triple threat match against Steve Austin and Triple H. It has been stated by Stone Cold, Triple H, and Foley himself that Triple H was originally scheduled to win the championship. Foley stated the reason he was booked into the match was because Austin had torn a ligament in his knee and a triple threat match would add enough intangibles to make an acceptable match without aggravating Austin's knee. Mankind's win also led to an enraged Triple H to assault Austin, justifying Austin's absence while his knee healed. Triple H defeated Mankind and won the title the next night on Raw. A major feud developed between Mankind and the McMahon-Helmsley regime, led by Triple H, which led to Mankind's reverting to his Cactus Jack persona and facing Triple H for the WWF Championship at Royal Rumble in a Street Fight. Cactus used barbed wire 2x4 and thumbtacks, trademark weapons from his pre-WWF days, but Triple H won the match after delivering two pedigrees, the second onto a pile of tacks. This feud culminated with a rematch at No Way Out in a Hell in a Cell match, where stipulations held that if Cactus Jack did not win the title, Foley would retire from wrestling. During the match, they had made their way onto the top of the cell and Foley was preparing to piledrive Triple H onto a barbed wire 2x4 on fire, but Triple H reversed it into a backdrop, causing the cage to give way, Foley fell through the canvas. One pedigree later, Triple H had won the match and Mick's career was over. Foley left for a few weeks, but returned at the request of Linda McMahon to wrestle for the title at WrestleMania 2000 against Triple H, The Rock and Big Show. Triple H won and Foley did not wrestle again for four years.
After retiring from active competition, Foley served as storyline WWF Commissioner under his real name rather than one of his personas. Foley has said that he intended for his Commissioner Foley character to be a "role model for nerds," cracking lame jokes and making no attempt to appear tough or scary. He also had a knack during this time to have no one spot for his office; rather, Mick would have an office in all sorts of odd places (for example, closets). Foley turned getting cheap pops into something of a catchphrase, as he shamelessly declared at each WWF show that he was thrilled to be "right here in (whatever city in which he was performing (e.g., New York))!" punctuated with an intentionally cheesy thumbs-up gesture. During this time, Commissioner Foley engaged in rivalries with Kurt Angle, Edge and Christian, and Vince McMahon without actually wrestling them. He left the position in December 2000 after being "fired" onscreen by McMahon.
Foley made a surprise return on the Raw just prior to WrestleMania X-Seven and announced that he would be the special guest referee in the match between Mr. McMahon and his son Shane at WrestleMania. After WrestleMania, Foley made sporadic WWF TV appearances throughout the spring and summer, at one point introducing Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura during a taping of Raw in the state as a foil to Mr. McMahon, as well as serving as the guest referee for the Earl Hebner versus Nick Patrick Referee match at the WWF Invasion pay-per-view.
Foley returned as commissioner in October 2001, near the end of The Invasion angle. During this brief tenure, Foley had the opportunity to shoot on the WWF's direction and how dissatisfied he was with it. Saying that there were far too many championships in the company, he booked unification matches prior to the final pay-per-view of the storyline, Survivor Series. After Survivor Series, he ended his commissionership at Vince McMahon's request and left the company.
During his absences from WWE, Foley made frequent appearances on the independent circuit from 2003 to 2005, primarily in non-wrestling roles, either as a referee, manager, or special guest.
His first independent circuit appearance was on December 12, 2003 for International Wrestling Cartel, where he was the special guest referee for a match between Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Lawler.
Foley did not appear on the independent circuit again until May 2004, when he appeared for the Japanese promotion HUSTLE and returned to the ring to face Toshiaki Kawada for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, but ended up losing.
On September 11, Foley made his debut for Ring of Honor and cut a promo, praising ROH and referring to it as "Ring of Hardcore", thus establishing himself as a babyface. On October 3, Foley refereed a match between Jerry Lawler and Slyck Wagner Brown for the New England Wrestling promotion. On October 15, Foley returned to ROH where he confronted Ricky Steamboat, who claimed that traditional wrestling was better than hardcore wrestling. The next day, both Foley and Steamboat cut promos on each other, leading to a match between two teams of wrestlers handpicked by both men, with Nigel McGuiness and Chad Collyer representing Steamboat and Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer representing Foley, which was won by McGuiness and Collyer. On November 6, Foley teased a heel turn when he called ROH Champion Samoa Joe "softcore". On November 20, Foley made a surprise appearance for New York Wrestling Connection, making a run-in during Mikey Whipwreck and Ken Scampi's match against Mayhem and Tony Burma, where he helped Whipwreck and Scampi win.
Foley made an appearance on the Night of Appreciation for Sabu, where he refereed the match between Shane Douglas and Raven, where Sabu himself interfered in the match and helped Douglas win.
Foley returned to ROH on December 26 at ROH's Final Battle event and had his final confrontation with Ricky Steamboat (who had been rehired with WWE as a road agent), and the two made peace. On January 15, 2005, Foley turned heel after he was confronted by Samoa Joe and hit Joe over the head with a steel chair. One week later, Foley appeared with Border City Wrestling to referee the match between Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin for the BCW Television Championship, which Sabin won.
Foley refereed the main event of the first WrestleReunion show, which saw Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and Mike Graham battle Abdullah the Butcher, Kevin Sullivan, and CM Punk.
On February 19, Foley resumed his feud with Samoa Joe in ROH, teasing a return to the ring but instead choosing Vordell Walker to fight Joe. After Joe defeated Walker, Foley introduced his "backup plan" New Cactus Jack to fight Joe in a second match, which Joe won as well.
On February 26, Foley appeared with Frank Goodman's USA Xtreme promotion, cutting a promo saying that there was no need to wait until June for an ECW reunion (referring to the upcoming Hardcore Homecoming show being put together by Shane Douglas), and brought out Axl Rotten, Shane Douglas, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Balls Mahoney, Al Snow, Justin Credible, The Sandman, Terry Funk and Sabu, much to the excitement of the crowd, who began an "E-C-Dub!" chant. But then Raven came out and cut a promo saying that he had only ever been the one true star of ECW and everyone else had just been a jobber, leading to a match between Raven and Balls Mahoney later in the night, which Raven won by DQ when he threw fire in Mahoney's eyes. After this, Foley and several of the other ECW alumni came to the ring and attacked Raven.
On April 2, Foley appeared with Harley Race's World League Wrestling to referee a match between Trevor Rhodes and Brandon Bishop, which was ruled a No-Contest. After the match, Rhodes, Bishop, and Johnny Gold all attacked Foley until Terry Funk and Harley Race ran in and fought the three wrestlers off. Afterwards, Foley left the arena with Funk and Race.
On April 30, Foley refereed a match at a Northeast Wrestling show between Jerry Lawler and King Kong Bundy, which Lawler won.
On May 7, Foley made a return to the ring at the Mark Curtis Memorial Show, where he was victorious in a tag team match with Shane Douglas against Al Snow and D'Lo Brown, which also featured Dominic DeNucci (Foley and Douglas' trainer) in his and Douglas' corner.
The main event of the ECW reunion show Hardcore Homecoming was Terry Funk against Sabu and Shane Douglas in a Triple Threat Elimination No Ropes Barbed Wire Match. During the middle of the match, Bill Alfonso, who was in Sabu's corner, began pulling Shane Douglas into the wire, which led to Francine, who was in Douglas' corner, attacking Alfonso. Using this as a distraction, Douglas brought a ladder into the ring when suddenly the lights in the arena went out. When they came back on, Foley was in the ring, as Cactus Jack, wearing a referee shirt. Foley pulled out a barbed-wire wrapped Mr. Socko and applied the Mandible Claw on Douglas, then DDT'd Douglas onto a steel chair. Terry Funk then crawled onto Douglas and eliminated him when Foley made the 3-count. After that, Funk targeted Sabu, throwing him into the barbed wire, then setting up a table and putting Sabu on it. Funk then climbed up the ladder, but before he got far, it collapsed from under his weight, sending him crashing through the table. Sabu then recovered, gave Funk an Arabian Facebuster off a chair, and pinned Funk to win the match. After the match ended, all four of them were greeted with chants of "Terry!" and "Sabu!" and "Foley!" and "Thank You Shane!" and of course "E-C-Dub! E-C-Dub!". The entire locker room emptied moments later and celebrated with Funk, Sabu, Foley, and Douglas in the ring to continued "E-C-Dub" chants.
On July 8, Foley returned to ROH as a face, confronting ROH Champion CM Punk, who had turned heel and mocked ROH and the championship after he had signed with WWE and threatened to take the title with him to WWE. Foley acted as a direct line to Vince McMahon, attempting to convince Punk to defend his title one last time on McMahon's orders before he departed from ROH.
On August 13, Foley made an appearance with Ballpark Brawl to make fun of Matt Striker, who had been doing an impersonation of The Rock. Later in the event, Foley refereed the Canes, Tables, and Chairs match between Sandman and Sabu, which Sandman won. After the match, Foley celebrated with Sandman by drinking beer with him in the middle of the ring.
On August 20, Foley returned to ROH again, as a face, to rescue Jade Chung from Prince Nana. Foley was then attacked from behind by Alex Shelley and The Embassy until Austin Aries and Roderick Strong chased them off. One week later, Foley returned to the ring for the second WrestleReunion show to team with Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr. in a losing effort against the Midnight Express (Stan Lane, Bobby Eaton, and Dennis Condrey.)
Foley made his final regular appearance with ROH on September 17, when he was in A.J. Styles' corner in a match against Embassy member Jimmy Rave, which Styles won. Afterwards, Foley put over ROH huge saying he enjoyed being on ROH shows and would speak highly of it.
Foley made his final major independent circuit appearance on the Tribute to Starrcade show on November 19 as the referee for the match between Dustin Rhodes and Terry Funk, which ended in a No-Contest.
Foley returned in June 2003 to referee the Hell in a Cell match between Triple H and Kevin Nash at Bad Blood. On June 23, during a Raw broadcast in Madison Square Garden, he was honored for his achievements in the ring and presented with the retired WWE Hardcore Championship belt. The evening ended with Foley taking a beating and kicked down stairs by Randy Orton and Ric Flair. In December 2003, Foley returned to replace Steve Austin as co-general manager of Raw. He soon grew tired of the day-to-day travel and left his full-time duties to write and spend time with his family. In the storyline, Foley was afraid to wrestle a match with Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton on the December 15 episode of Raw and walked out of the match rather than face him, the result of the match was ruled a draw. After Foley walked backstage, Orton confronted him asking why he walked out of the match, calling him a coward in the process, before spitting in his face. Foley walked out of the arena afterwards.
In 2004, Foley returned briefly to wrestling, competing in the Royal Rumble and eliminating both Orton and himself with his trademark Cactus Jack clothesline. He and The Rock reunited as the Rock 'n' Sock Connection and lost a handicap match to Evolution at WrestleMania XX when Orton pinned Foley with an RKO as Foley pulled out Mr. Socko. On the April 12th edition of Monday Night RAW Foley teamed with Shelton Benjamin, Shawn Michaels & Chris Benoit in an 8-man tag contest against Evolution, in which Foley's team was successful in scoring victory which furthered his feud with Randy Orton. The two continued to feud, culminating in a hardcore match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at Backlash, where Orton barely defeated Foley as his Cactus Jack persona to retain the title with an RKO onto a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat, which Foley now regards as possibly the best match of his career.
Foley appeared as a color commentator at WWE's ECW One Night Stand, which aired on June 12, 2005, and subsequently renewed his contract with WWE. Foley returned in 2005 in a match where fans were able to vote on which persona he would appear as—Mankind, Dude Love, or Cactus Jack—against Carlito at Taboo Tuesday. Foley cut promos for each character and an online vote was held. The fans voted for Mankind, who went on to win the match. On the February 16, 2006 Raw, Foley returned to referee the WWE Championship match between Edge and John Cena. After Cena won, Edge attacked Foley, and the following week, Edge challenged Foley to a match at WrestleMania 22. Edge defeated Foley after spearing him through a flaming table. In the weeks after the match, Foley turned heel and allied himself with Edge against the newly rejuvenated ECW. This was the first WWE heel turn (and his final heel turn) of Foley since his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin as Dude Love in 1998. This was also his first heel run under his real name. Also during that time he changed his "thrilled to be here" catch phrase into a more heelish type way. For example, on a RAW episode in Las Vegas Foley would say, "I'm thrilled to be right here in Las Vegas!" Then right after that he would say, "Well actually, Las Vegas isn't all that great." Then he would continue to make more negative comments while fans start booing at him. At ECW One Night Stand, Foley, Edge and Lita defeated Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer and Beulah McGillicutty.
Foley then engaged in a storyline rivalry with Ric Flair, inspired by real-life animosity between the two. In Have a Nice Day!, Foley wrote that Flair was "every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side of it." In response, Flair wrote in his autobiography that Foley was "a glorified stuntman" and that he was able to climb the ladder in the WWF only because he was friends with the bookers. The two had a backstage confrontation at a Raw event in 2003, but Foley has said that they have largely reconciled. To spark the feud, Flair again called Foley a "glorified stuntman" and Foley called Flair a "washed up piece of crap" and challenged him to a match. The result was a Two-out-of-Three Falls match at Vengeance, where Flair beat Foley in two straight falls; with a rollup counter to the figure four in the first and by disqualification in the second after a trashcan shot. After the match, Flair was split wide open by Foley with a barbed-wire bat. The two then wrestled an "I Quit" match at SummerSlam, which Flair won when he forced Foley to quit by threatening Melina with a barbed-wire bat. On the edition of August 21 of Raw, Foley literally kissed Vince McMahon's buttocks as part of McMahon's "Kiss My Ass Club" gimmick after he threatened to fire Melina. Shortly thereafter, she betrayed Foley and announced that he was fired.
Seven months later, Foley made his return to Raw on March 5, 2007 as a face again and tricked McMahon into giving him his job back. On April 9, Foley contributed to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and helped a young child named Michael Peña to become an honorary General Manager of the night. Foley appeared again on June 11 for Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night insulting McMahon. Foley also announced his place as a number one contender for the WWE Championship. During the Raw broadcast before Vengeance, Foley was scheduled to make his official in-ring return in a match against Umaga but he attacked Umaga before the match, and the match was never started. At Vengeance, Foley wrestled in a WWE Championship Challenge match involving WWE Champion John Cena, Randy Orton, King Booker, and Bobby Lashley. Cena retained by pinning Foley. A month later, Foley made an appearance on Raw as the special guest referee for a match between Jonathan Coachman and Mr. McMahon's storyline illegitimate son Hornswoggle. Hornswoggle won the match, after Foley handed him a miniature Mr. Socko. Foley then made an appearance on SmackDown the same week, where he defeated Coachman with Hornswoggle as the special guest referee. On the January 7, 2008 episode of Raw, Foley and his tag team partner Hornswoggle qualified for the Royal Rumble by defeating The Highlanders, but Foley was eliminated by Triple H during the Royal Rumble match.
Foley debuted as a color commentator for SmackDown alongside Michael Cole at Backlash in 2008, replacing Jonathan Coachman. On the edition of August 1 of SmackDown, Foley was kayfabe attacked by Edge during Edge's promo for his SummerSlam match against The Undertaker. Foley sat out the August 8 SmackDown to sell his recovery from the injuries. Tazz filled in for Foley as a color commentator on SmackDown, while Raw wrestler Matt Striker filled in for Tazz on ECW. Foley told Long Island Press pro wrestling columnist Josh Stewart in August 2008 that "creatively, the announcing job wasn't working out too well". He expanded with Dave Meltzer on the Observer radio show that the environment was creatively frustrating. Foley allowed his contract with WWE to expire on September 1, 2008 and quietly left the company.
On September 3, 2008, Foley's agency, Gillespie Talent, issued a press release that stated Foley had signed a short-term deal with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Foley claimed in the statement to be "very excited about the specifics of this agreement and the potential it holds". Foley made his TNA debut on September 5, at a TNA house show giving a short speech about how he loved the product, in which he also belittled WWE. The official TNA Wrestling website featured an image of a smiley face with a variation of Foley's catch phrase, "Have a nice day!" (and, before No Surrender, "Have a nice Sunday!").
On the edition of September 18, 2008 of Impact!, Foley made his first televised appearance for TNA, where Jeff Jarrett introduced him to the audience on the arena's video wall. Two weeks later, Foley made his full television debut in a promo making comments about the WWE roster, Vince McMahon and Kurt Angle. At Bound for Glory IV, he was the special guest enforcer for Jarrett and Angle's match. Later, on Impact!, Foley said goodbye, but was then approached by Jeff Jarrett with a new offer; he later indicated that they had come to terms on a new contract and would make a major announcement the next week. On the October 23 episode of Impact!, Foley announced that he was now co-owner of TNA along with Jarrett, just after Kurt Angle headbutted him.
On November 27, Thanksgiving Day, TNA presented the Turkey Bowl. Alex Shelley ended up being pinned by Rhino, and Foley handed Rhino the check. Afterwards, the defeated Shelley had to put on a Turkey Suit in compliance with the match rules, albeit with much refusal. However, Shelley "flipped off" Foley and proceeded to beat him up. In the aftermath, Mick mentioned that Shelley is lucky he still has his job. The Main Event Mafia's Kevin Nash, Booker T, and Scott Steiner were going to take on Brother Devon, A.J. Styles, and Mick Foley in his debut matchup at Genesis. Nash, however, suffered a legitimate staph infection and missed Genesis. He was replaced by Cute Kip. Foley got the pin when he hit Scott Steiner with a double arm DDT onto a chair.
On April 19, 2009 at Lockdown, he defeated Sting to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship for his first ever championship in TNA, and his fourth World title overall. Mick did not lose the championship, but Sting became the new leader of the Main Event Mafia by pinning Kurt Angle at Sacrifice. Foley had also stated on Impact! tapings that if he retained the TNA World Heavyweight Title at the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary, he would only put the title up in a match once a year. However, he lost the title to Kurt Angle in the King of The Mountain match at Slammiversary. He received a rematch at Victory Road, commenting he had only submitted once in his career (to Terry Funk, in a spinning toe hold) and swore he'd never do it again. He lost the match when Angle forced him to submit again with the ankle lock.
On July 30, 2009, the 200th episode of Impact!, Foley won the TNA Legends Championship by pinning champion Kevin Nash in a tag team match where Nash teamed with Angle and Foley with Bobby Lashley. At Hard Justice Nash defeated Foley to regain the title, following interference from Traci Brooks.
On the edition of September 24 of Impact! Foley turned heel again when he attacked Abyss during and after a TNA World Tag Team Championship match against Booker T and Scott Steiner. Foley revealed Abyss as the one who tore up his picture and beat him to a bloody pulp with a video tape and the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. Abyss then challenged Foley to a Monster's Ball match which Foley accepted. At Bound for Glory Abyss defeated Foley in the match. Two weeks later, Foley turned face by turning on Dr. Stevie and saved Abyss from him. The following week he explained that he had played Dr. Stevie all along and had challenged Abyss to a match at Bound for Glory in order to see how tough he really was. On the edition of November 12 of Impact! Raven returned to TNA and saved Stevie's future in the company by costing Abyss a match and throwing a fireball in Foley's face.
After this, Foley turned his attention away from Abyss and Dr. Stevie and concentrated on Hulk Hogan's arrival in TNA, appearing to be paranoid about Hogan taking over TNA. On the edition of December 3 of Impact! Foley teased another heel turn by booking face Kurt Angle in a handicap match, after Angle refused to give him information on who Hogan is bringing to TNA. At Final Resolution Abyss and Foley defeated Stevie and Raven in a "Foley's Funhouse" tag team match. On January 4, 2010, the day of Hulk Hogan's debut for TNA, Foley was assaulted by the reunited Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman, when trying to get a meeting with Hogan. On the edition of January 21 of Impact! new Executive Producer Eric Bischoff fired Foley, after claiming to have been attacked by him. On the edition of February 11 of Impact!, Bischoff and Foley "talked it over", as Hogan had suggested two weeks prior, and Foley was entered in the 8 Card Stud Tournament at Against All Odds. The match was a No Disqualification match against Abyss, who won the match and advanced. On the edition of March 15 of Impact! Bischoff announced that he would be shaving Foley bald as a punishment for trying to help Jeff Jarrett in a handicap match the previous week. At first Foley was seemingly going along with the plan, but at the last second he shoved Mr. Socko down Bischoff's throat, put him on the barber's chair and shaved him nearly bald. On the following edition of Impact!, Foley lost to Jarrett in a No Disqualification Career vs. Career match set up by Bischoff, forcing Foley to kayfabe leave TNA. In reality, Foley was taken off television due to him being on his way to exceed the maximum number of dates per year on his contract, at the pace he was making appearances.
Foley returned to TNA on July 12, 2010, at the tapings of the edition of July 15 of Impact!, leading an invasion of fellow ECW alumni TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Stevie Richards, Rhino, Brother Devon, Pat Kenney and Al Snow forming the team of EV 2.0. The following week, TNA president Dixie Carter agreed to give the ECW alumni their own reunion pay–per–view event, Hardcore Justice: The Last Stand, as a celebration of hardcore wrestling and a final farewell to the company. At the event Foley refereed a Final Showdown match between Tommy Dreamer and Raven. On the following edition of Impact!, the ECW alumni, known collectively as Extreme, Version 2.0 (EV 2.0), were assaulted by A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Robert Roode, James Storm, Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan of Ric Flair's Fourtune stable, who thought they didn't deserve to be in TNA. In August Foley began writing a weekly column for TNA's website. On the October 7, 2010 live edition of Impact!, Foley defeated Ric Flair in a Last Man Standing match. the Last Man Standing match with Flair turned out to be Foley's last match in TNA. At Bound for Glory Foley was in EV 2.0's corner, when Dreamer, Raven, Rhino, Richards and Sabu defeated Fourtune members Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm in a Lethal Lockdown match. After not appearing for two months, Foley returned on the edition of December 23 of Impact!, confronting Fortune and Immortal. After Genesis, Foley once again disappeared from TNA television, but kept making regular appearances at TNA house shows. At the tapings of the edition of May 12 of Impact!, Foley made his return to TV as he was revealed as the "Network" consultant, who had been causing problems for Immortal for the past months. On May 23, Foley, who had expressed frustration with TNA and said that he did not plan to renew his contract with the promotion once it would expire in the fall of 2011, made a joke on Twitter, comparing his Empty Arena match with The Rock to a TNA house show. On the following edition of Impact Wrestling on June 2, Hulk Hogan announced that Foley had been fired as the Network Executive. This was done to write Foley, who had asked for his release from TNA, off television. His departure from the promotion was confirmed on June 5, 2011.
Foley returned to WWE at a house show in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, taking a break from his UK comedy tour, on November 2, 2011, making an in-ring promo with The Miz and R-Truth and then guest refereed the tag team match, appearing again in Manchester on November 5. Foley returned to Raw on November 14, which featured him presenting a "This is Your Life" celebration for John Cena (he presented a similar segment for The Rock 12 years earlier). Among those brought out were Cena's former tag team partner Bull Buchanan, his former baseball coach (kayfabe), and his father; however the segment was interrupted by The Rock, who delivered a Rock Bottom to Foley before leaving the ring, ending the segment. Foley was the special guest host on the live edition of Smackdown on November 29.
Foley appeared on Raw on the January 16, 2012, episode to announce his intentions to participate in the Royal Rumble match at the 2012 Royal Rumble pay-per-view later in the night during a six-man tag team match CM Punk needing a tag Foley came down to the ring and got tagged in the match; he defeated David Otunga but John Laurinaitis reversed the decision because Foley was not an official participant of the match. The next week, he also appeared, wishing Zack Ryder good luck in his match against Kane that night. Foley participated in the Royal Rumble match at the 2012 Royal Rumble pay-per-view where he entered at number 7 and eliminated Justin Gabriel (with the help of Ricardo Rodriguez), Epico, and Primo, eventually being eliminated by Cody Rhodes after 06:34 this was Foley's last night as an active wrestler. Foley later appeared in a segment alongside Santino Marella during Wrestlemania XXVIII. On April 10, 2012, Foley made an appearance on WWE SmackDown: Blast from the Past. He returned to Raw on June 18, 2012, announcing that he would be serving as the temporary general manager of both Raw and SmackDown for the week. On July 23, at the 1000th episode of Raw, he appeared as Dude Love, danced with Brodus Clay and performed the mandible claw on Jack Swagger with a tie dyed Mr. Socko. In 2012 he hosted the WWE: Falls Count Anywhere – The Greatest Street Fights and other Out of Control Matches DVD. On the September 24, 2012 episode of Raw, Foley made an appearance to confront CM Punk, telling him to accept a match against John Cena. Later in the show, however, Punk attacked Foley backstage. At Hell in a Cell, CM Punk successfully retained his WWE Championship against Ryback due to interference from the referee, Brad Maddox. The next day on Raw, CM Punk announced he would be facing Team Foley at Survivor Series in a traditional Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination match for which Foley had accepted the challenge. However Punk had been removed from the match the following week. On the November 12, 2012 episode of Raw, Foley was appointed the Special Guest Enforcer in the match between CM Punk and John Cena. Foley's hand-picked Survivor Series team of The Miz, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and Team Hell No failed to defeat Team Ziggler in the Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Tag Match. Foley portrayed Santa Claus on the December 24 pre-taped edition of Monday Night Raw. Foley as Santa was run over by Alberto Del Rio. However, he managed to recover later in the night and help Cena defeat Del Rio in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight.
In August 2012, Foley was originally scheduled to have a match with the debuting Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam. However, doctors were not able to medically clear Foley and thus Foley announced his final retirement from in-ring competition.
On January 11, WWE.com announced that Foley would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6, 2013 in New York City by his longtime friend Terry Funk. The official announcement was made on the 20th Anniversary of Raw on January 14. At the February 26 taping of Saturday Morning Slam (that aired March 16), Foley was named as the new general manager for the show. He left the position in May 2013 when the show was canceled Foley returned on edition of April 22 of Raw to confront Ryback until he was saved by John Cena. Foley appeared as part of the Extreme Rules post-show to provide an analysis. On the Edition of December 18 of Main Event he appeared As 'Foley Claus', helping The Miz defeat Curtis Axel. In April 2014, Foley didn't re-sign his Legends contract with WWE.
On the October 20, 2014 episode of Raw, Foley returned during a segment with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins where he discussed the cases of their match at Hell in a Cell. Throughout December 2014, Foley appeared in segments on Raw as Saint Mick alongside his daughter Noelle.
In 2015, Foley appeared at SummerSlam, where he kicked off the event with host Jon Stewart.
Foley returned to Raw on March 14, 2016 in a backstage segment with Dean Ambrose, in which he gave him a pep talk for his upcoming WrestleMania 32 match against Brock Lesnar and a passing of the torch in the form of his iconic barbed wire baseball bat, "Barbie". On April 3, 2016 at WrestleMania 32, Foley returned in-ring alongside Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin in a post-match interruption where the trio of Hall of Famers took on The League of Nations after they had defeated The New Day and proclaimed "No three people can ever defeat us." Foley brought out Mr. Socko and executed the Mandible Claw two times during the fight, once on Sheamus and once on King Barrett. The latter was part of a three-way finishing move sequence where Barrett was first hit with Sweet Chin Music by Shawn Michaels, staggered and fell into Mr. Socko, and finally hit with a Stone Cold Stunner.
On the July 18, 2016 episode of Raw, Foley was appointed by Stephanie McMahon as the General Manager of Raw. Foley has since unveiled new titles exclusive to the brand, while also making fair decisions to favor the fan favorites and occasionally disagreeing with Stephanie McMahon. One of Foley's first decisions as Raw General Manager was pitting the feuding Sheamus and Cesaro against one another in a Best of 7 series. Going into Clash of Champions the duo were tied 3-3. At Clash of Champions, both men would be counted out resulting in a draw and the best of seven series being declared a draw. On the next night's episode of Raw Foley who had promised the victor a championship opportunity would put the two in a tag team. They would later lose to The New Day in a WWE Tag Team Championship match before going on to capture the RAW Tag Team Championships against the New Day at the Roadblock: End of the Line pay-per-view. On the November 21 episode of Raw, Foley would place Sami Zayn in a match against Braun Strowman after Zayn failed to defeat The Miz at Survivor Series for the WWE Intercontinental Championship to bring the title to Raw. During the match, Foley would order the match to be stopped, deeming Zayn unable to continue. The following week on Raw, Zayn would demand a rematch against Strowman, but Foley would decline, telling Zayn he could not beat him, making Zayn storm off in anger. On the December 12 episode of Raw, Zayn would once again ask for a rematch with Strowman, but was once again rejected by Foley. Zayn would then tell Foley he was pondering going to SmackDown because Foley did not believe in him. Later that night, after Zayn defeated Jinder Mahal, Foley would tell him he has arranged a trade with SmackDown for him in exchange for Eva Marie. Zayn would angrily refuse the trade and once again demanded a rematch with Strowman. Foley would yield, giving Zayn his match with Strowman at Roadblock: End of the Line with a ten-minute time limit.
On the March 13, 2017 episode of Raw, Stephanie McMahon forced Foley to fire a member of the Raw roster by the end of the night. Foley chose to fire Stephanie McMahon herself, which prompted Triple H to come out and confront Foley. After being insulted and ordered to leave the ring, Foley instead attacked Triple H, stuffing a stinky sock in Triple H's mouth via Mr. Socko before being low blowed by McMahon. Seth Rollins would then come out to aid Foley, only to be attacked by Triple H. On the March 20 episode of Raw, Stephanie McMahon would fire Foley for his actions the previous week. A few weeks later Foley made an appearance at the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
Foley is a multi-time New York Times bestselling author, particularly known for his ongoing series of memoirs. His writing has generally received favorable reviews.
From May 7 to July 1, 1999, Foley wrote his autobiography — without the aid of a ghostwriter, as he noted in the introduction — in almost 800 pages of longhand. The book, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks topped The New York Times' non-fiction bestseller list for several weeks. The follow-up, Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling, was published in 2001.
The third part of his autobiography, The Hardcore Diaries, highlights his 2004 feud with Randy Orton, his match and later partnership with Edge, and program with Ric Flair in 2006. The Hardcore Diaries also spent time on the New York Times bestseller list. Foley's Countdown to Lockdown was published on October 1, 2010. On September 30, 2010, Joey Styles interviewed Foley on WWE.com – even though Foley was under contract with TNA – about his new book, while Michael Cole plugged the book on the edition of September 27 of Raw and a piece was published by Foley in Slate of which portions were adapted from Countdown. WWE's promotion of a product released by an employee of a rival company was a quite unusual move and a welcome surprise for Foley, who has since stated that he was delighted at the respect shown by his former employer. On November 10, 2010, Foley appeared on The Daily Show and Off the Record to discuss the book and his charity work. Countdown to Lockdown became Foley's first memoir to not make the New York Times bestseller list.
Foley has also written four children's books, Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx, Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos, Tales from Wrescal Lane and A Most Mizerable Christmas, in addition to two novels: Tietam Brown, a coming-of-age story which was nominated for the WHSmith People's Choice Award in 2004 and Scooter, was published in August 2005.Memoirs
(1999) Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-039299-1. (credited as Mankind/Mick Foley)
(2001) Foley Is Good: And the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-103241-7.
(2007) The Hardcore Diaries. PocketBooks. ISBN 1-4165-3157-2
(2010) Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-56461-3
(2017) Saint Mick: My Journey From Hardcore Legend to Santa's Jolly Elf . Polis Books. ISBN 1943818754
(2000) Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos. ReganBooks. ISBN 0-06-039414-5.
(2001) Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-000251-4.
(2004) Tales From Wrescal Lane. World Wrestling Entertainment.ISBN 0-7434-6634-9.
(2012) A Most Mizerable Christmas DK Publishing, Inc.ISBN 9781465403452.
(2003) Tietam Brown. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41550-5.
(2005) Scooter. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4414-6.
One of Foley's earliest acting roles was in 1996. Shortly before he left for Stamford, Foley appeared in Atlanta filmmakers Barry Norman and Michael Williams' short subject Deadbeats as "Bird", an armed robber turned debt collector. One of Foley's first TV guest appearances was as a wrestler on USA Network's short-lived action-comedy G vs E. He also featured prominently in the documentary Beyond the Mat. Foley, as Mankind, also starred in a series of commercials for Chef Boyardee's beef ravioli. He appeared in the Insane Clown Posse vehicle Big Money Hustlas as Cactus Sac, which was basically the same character as his Cactus Jack persona.
In late 2001, Foley hosted a series of Robot Wars dubbed "Extreme Warriors." He also provided a guest voice for two episodes of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which he portrayed a satirical earthbending wrestler named the Boulder, and provided the voice for Gorrath in the pilot episode of Megas XLR. Foley appeared in an episode of Boy Meets World as Mankind, giving advice to Eric Matthews before giving Eric the mandible claw and an airplane spin. Foley was also a voice in an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch where he was an animated version of Mankind doing a stunt from the ceiling, and later in the same episode he fought and defeated Ernest Hemingway. Foley also had a small role in the 2007 thriller movie Anamorph starring Willem Dafoe.
Foley has frequently appeared on Air America Radio's Morning Sedition, including several stints as a guest host and has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show. He also hosted WWE's radio show. Foley also occasionally appears on the Opie and Anthony Show. In the summer of 2007, Mick Foley was filmed for the film Bloodstained Memoirs, a wrestling documentary.
In 2009, Foley had a guest voice appearance on Adult Swim show Squidbillies as Thunder Clap, a former pro-wrestler (strongly resembling Hulk Hogan in appearance and speech), who had recently gone through some tough times, during the Season 4 episode "Anabolic-holic". On August 22, 2009, Foley made his stand-up debut at the Improv in Los Angeles, CA. The event was billed the "Total Xtreme Comedy show" and also featured comedians, Steve Simone, Brad Williams, Bret Ernst and Ring of Honor's Colt Cabana, who was also making his stand-up debut. The money Foley made from the event went to Wrestler's Rescue, which creates awareness and helps raise money to support the health care needs of retired professional wrestlers. In October 2009, Foley was guest DJ on E Street Radio, a Satellite radio station dedicated to the music of Bruce Springsteen.
On November 19, 2009 Foley made his first appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Deemed the "Senior Ass Kicker", Foley defended the pro-gay rights views of Will Phillips. He showed up again on March 15, 2010 to help correspondent Wyatt Cenac compare politics to pro wrestling, giving speeches for and against the use of the filibuster. Due to his charitable work and for standing up for Will Phillips, Foley was awarded a "Medal of Reasonableness" by Jon Stewart at the 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. On June 18, 2013, Mick Foley again appeared on the Daily Show now hosted by temporary host John Oliver. On this appearance, he defended immigration reform in response to the WWE's character Zeb Colter's comments on the June 17 episode of Raw.
In mid-2010, Foley has appeared on Chicago Comic Con, where he had his own booth promoting TNA. He was also interviewed by Victory Records, mentioning his interest in Swedish hard rock band Sister Sin.
On September 27, 2010, it was announced that Union Square Agency and American Original would be producing a feature film based on Foley's life.
In November 2010 Foley was a contestant on an all TNA week of Family Feud, teaming with Jay Lethal, Matt Morgan, Mr. Anderson and Rob Van Dam against Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, Lacey Von Erich, Tara and Velvet Sky.
Foley and his family appeared on ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap on January 31, 2012. His wife Colette traded places on the show with Antonio Sabàto, Jr.'s fiancé, Cheryl Moana Marie Nunes.
Foley appeared in a CollegeHumor video entitled "Mick Foley Mystery" as himself.
In 2014, a documentary starring Foley was released by Virgil Films entitled, "I Am Santa Claus". The film was produced by Foley and Morgan Spurlock. It chronicles the lives of members of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas.
Much of Foley's charitable work revolves around children. Among his involvement, Foley has participated in numerous Make-a-Wish Foundation events, has made surprise visits to children in hospitals, and has visited schools and libraries to talk to students about the value of education and the importance of reading. Foley sponsors seven children with ChildFund International (formerly Christian Children's Fund), a group he has been affiliated with since 1992. In recent years, he has become one of the fund's leading donors, helping fund childhood education centers in the remote areas of the Philippines and Mexico, as well as four small community schools in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. After visiting the country in November 2008, an experience he called "one of the best experiences of my life; maybe the best," Foley committed to funding a larger primary school, which was completed in September 2009.
Foley has visited U.S. troops at various military bases and military hospitals. For several years Foley visited wounded soldiers at Washington D.C.-based military hospitals on almost a monthly basis, becoming known as a "Legend among hurt troops," according to a Washington Times article.
Having become a devoted fan of Tori Amos' music in 1993, (particularly the song "Winter" from the Little Earthquakes album), and following a meeting with Amos at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, Foley became involved with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a group Amos co-founded in 1994. Since then, he has worked as a volunteer on their online hotline and as a member of their National Leadership Council. During a 15-month period ending in April 2011, Foley logged more than 550 hours talking to victims online. The same month, Foley offered to mow anyone's lawn who donated at least $5,000 to the organization, stating, "If you want to help survivors of sexual assault, or just want to see a big guy with long hair mowing your lawn in front of your friends, please take part..."
Continuing his campaign for the organization, in May 2011 Foley auctioned off on eBay two famous items associated with his wrestling career: his Cactus Jack lace-up "leopard skin" boots (still embedded with 149 thumbtacks from his Impact match with Ric Flair); and the white shirt that he wore as Mankind during 1998's "Hell in a Cell" match, among other items.
Foley has been outspoken in his support for the Democratic Party. During the 2004 election cycle, Foley argued the Democratic point of view in a WWE-sponsored debate against John "Bradshaw" Layfield, who spoke for the Republican side. He was a contributor to Barack Obama's campaign for the U.S. presidency in 2008.
Foley and his wife Colette (née Christie) have three sons and a daughter: Dewey Francis (born February 20, 1992), Noelle Margaret (born December 15, 1993), Michael Francis "Mickey" Jr. (born in 2001), and Hughie Francis (born in 2003). Foley's father, Jack Foley, a former Ward Melville High School Athletic Director, died on September 13, 2009. As of October 2015, Dewey has worked as a creative assistant for WWE. His son Mickey is on the autism spectrum.
Foley's sons Mickey and Hughie operate their own YouTube channel, MickeyFoley0105. The page depicts Mickey wrestling on a trampoline with his brother, and video games and other aspects of his life. Mick Foley himself occasionally appears in Mickey's videos, including one parodying the 2010 LeBron James special The Decision in which Foley teases announcing Al Snow as being his WWE Hall of Fame inductee before announcing the real inductee, Terry Funk.
Foley is a longtime fan of women's professional wrestling and has campaigned for their equality among men. Among his closest friends in WWE have long been their female performers, with Trish Stratus calling Mick the Divas' "safety valve" since, due to Foley being happily married, he was one of the few wrestlers who would not try to date his coworkers.Finishing moves
As Cactus Jack
Cactus Elbow/Hipbuster (Diving elbow drop from the ring apron to the outside of the ring)
Double underhook DDT
Stump Puller (Pulling piledriver) – 1991–1997; Super Finisher thereafter
As Dude Love
Love Handle (Mandible claw)
Sweet Shin Music (Superkick to the opponent's shin followed by a Double underhook DDT) – parodied from Shawn Michaels
As Mankind/Mick Foley
Double underhook DDT
Cactus clothesline – innovated
Cactus Jack Crack Smash/Nestea Plunge (Senton to the outside of the ring, usually from the ring apron)
Leg drop, sometimes with a chair positioned on the opponent's face.
Running elbow drop or double axe handle to the face of an opponent placed in the tree of woe
Running knee lift to the face of an opponent seated in the corner
Swinging neckbreaker, sometimes while running
Two-handed bulldog, sometimes while running
The Grand Lizard of Wrestling
"The Hardcore Legend"
"Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy"
"Mr. Bang Bang" by Jimmy Papa, Larry Velez and Michael Hayes (WCW/WWF)
"Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses (UWF)
"Funeral March" by Frédéric Chopin
"Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf (ECW/IWC/ROH)
"Back in Black" by AC/DC (ECW)
"Ode to Freud" by Jim Johnston (WWF)
"Schizophrenic" by Jim Johnston (WWF)
"Dude Love" by Jim Johnston (WWF/WWE)
"Wreck (V1)" by Jim Johnston (WWF/WWE)
"Wreck V2" by Jim Johnston (WWF/WWE/IWC)
"Wreck (V3)" by Jim Johnston (WWF/WWE)
"Whole Lotta Groove" from the Musique Cinema Television production library (WWF/WWE)
"Chic Chic Bang Bang" by Dale Oliver and Serg Salinas (TNA)
Continental Wrestling Association
CWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Gary Young
Extreme Championship Wrestling
ECW World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mikey Whipwreck
Extreme Mid-South Wrestling
North American Championship (3 times)
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
Frank Gotch Award (2010)
International Wrestling Association of Japan
IWA World Tag Team Championship (IWA Japan version) (1 time) – with Tracy Smothers
King of the Deathmatch (1995)
North American Wrestling
NAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
National Wrestling League
NWL Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Ozark Mountain Wrestling
OMW North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Pro Wrestling Illustrated
Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (1993)
Match of the Year (1998) vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring
Match of the Year (1999) vs. The Rock in an "I Quit" match at Royal Rumble
Ranked No. 19 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1999
Ranked No. 46 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2003
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
Class of 2017
Steel City Wrestling
SCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
SCW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with The Blue Meanie
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
TNA Legends Championship (1 time)
TNA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
World Championship Wrestling
WCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kevin Sullivan
World Class Championship Wrestling
USWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Scott Braddock
WCWA World Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
WCWA World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Super Zodiak II (1) and Scott Braddock (1)
World Wrestling Federation/WWE
WWF Championship (3 times)
WWF Hardcore Championship (1 time)
WWF Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Stone Cold Steve Austin (1), Chainsaw Charlie (1), Kane (2), The Rock (3) and Al Snow (1)
WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2013)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Best Brawler (1991–2000)
Best on Interviews (1995, 2004, 2006)
Best Pro Wrestling Book (2010) for Countdown to Lockdown
Feud of the Year (2000) vs. Triple H
Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic (1993) Cactus Jack amnesia angle
Readers' Favorite Wrestler (1998)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2000)